Former Senators: Saudi Government Knew About 9/11

| by Reason Foundation

By Nick Gillespie

Here's a The New York Times story worth burning one of your 20-free-per-month limit for.

Last week the Gray Lady published this story on page A19 with the headline "Saudi Arabia May Be Tied To 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say."

Maybe it's just me, but I'm surprised the story hasn't gotten bigger play (indeed, I didn't even note it until a recent conversation with former Reason staffer and inveterate Middle East watcher Charles Paul Freund).

From The Times:

“I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, said in an affidavit filed as part of a lawsuit brought against the Saudi government and dozens of institutions in the country by families of Sept. 11 victims and others. Mr. Graham led a joint 2002 Congressional inquiry into the attacks.

His former Senate colleague, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, a Democrat who served on the separate 9/11 Commission, said in a sworn affidavit of his own in the case that “significant questions remain unanswered” about the role of Saudi institutions. “Evidence relating to the plausible involvement of possible Saudi government agents in the September 11th attacks has never been fully pursued,” Mr. Kerrey said.

Graham's and Kerrey's statements are in affidavits for a lawsuit against the Saudi government that has been wending its way through American courts since 2002. This is pretty stunning stuff, according to The Times' gloss:

Unanswered questions include the work of a number of Saudi-sponsored charities with financial links to Al Qaeda, as well as the role of a Saudi citizen living in San Diego at the time of the attacks, Omar al-Bayoumi, who had ties to two of the hijackers and to Saudi officials, Mr. Graham said in his affidavit.

Still, Washington has continued to stand behind Saudi Arabia publicly, with the Justice Department joining the kingdom in trying to have the lawsuits thrown out of court on the grounds that the Saudis are protected by international immunity.

More here.

Graham and Kerrey are not nutjobs. Both were hip-deep in government investigations of the 9/11 attacks, which were largely carried out almost exclusively by Saudi nationals. As Yaroslav Trofimov documented in his excellent 2007 book, The Seige of Mecca, after the 1979 occupation of Islam's holiest city by radicals, the Saudi government essentially bought off domestic fundamentalists by helping to promote their agenda abroad. According to a Wikileaks dump from 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton averred that donors in Saudi Arabia were "the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide." That's not the same as saying that a "direct line" exists between the government of Saudi Arabia and some of the 9/11 terrorists, but it surely deserves more scrutiny from the press than it's been getting.